Modern technical standards often include large numbers of patented technologies that are required to implement those standards. These “standard-essential patents” are very valuable assets, and firms that do not own such patents are prepared to spend billions of dollars purchasing them. Whereas large numbers of standard-essential patents are often taken for granted, this study focuses on the process by which companies obtain such patents. Analyzing original data of a large standardization process, we demonstrate how many companies use a strategy we call “just-in-time patenting”: They apply for patents of low technical merit just before a standardization meeting, and then send the patents’ inven- tors to the meeting to negotiate this patented technology into the standard. Our findings have several implications for standard-setting organizations, patent offices, and policymakers, as the inclusion of just- in-time patents may reduce competition and market entry, increase prices, and unnecessarily complicate the technological content of standards.
- Patents Standards Essential patents SEPs Strategic behavior W-CDMA LTE